Summary: This message looks at some tactics the enemy will use to discredit God's people. We can fight back through prayer. Daniel actually stood for his faith while on his knees in prayer.
In our second message from this series, I mentioned how when we live according to biblical principles, working “as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23), that we will receive God’s favor and be promoted to a place of prominence. I also cautioned that those who are favored by God are hated by the world; and that you must never let your guard down, because the Enemy will always be watching and waiting for the first opportunity to strike. In our message today, as we look at the character named Daniel, we will learn some more tactics that the enemy will use to discredit the Lord’s people; and we will learn how to withstand these attacks, which will often result in deliverance and God’s glory.
Some Government Officials Fear God (vv. 1-4)
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. 4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.
We read here of King Darius who promoted Daniel. So how did Darius, who was a Mede from the Persian Empire, ever become the king of Babylon? How this happened is the Babylonian king Belshazzar had profaned and disrespected the Lord, even though he knew the fate that had befallen his father Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord debased Nebuchadnezzar because of his pride and arrogance. He was knocked down, and “deposed from his kingly throne” (Daniel 5:20). When Belshazzar refused to heed the warning and refused to respect the Lord, he was judged and sentenced by God; and the Scripture records: “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old” (Daniel 5:30-31).
Now, the identity of Darius the Mede is a matter of debate because of some dating discrepancies. There have been attempts to identify him with King Cyrus (Donald Wiseman, 1957). History records that “Cyrus the Great was the king who took over the Babylonian Empire. Cyrus was also married to a Mede, and had a Median mother.”(1) The book of Nehemiah points to Cyrus as the first Persian king over Babylon; and Nehemiah also identifies him as the king who issued a decree allowing the Jews to return home and begin rebuilding the Jerusalem temple (Ezra 1:1-3). We can easily get caught up in debating the identity of Darius the Mede, and miss the message that the Lord wants us to grasp.
Darius appointed Daniel as one of three governors over the entire kingdom. I stated in our last sermon that if we serve as faithful messengers of the Lord, speaking out against sin and being a bold witness for truth and justice, that God will see to it that we are promoted. Those of us who are good stewards with the task set before us, no matter what the size or level of difficulty, we are setting ourselves up to be given more. For example, in Luke 19:17, Jesus declared, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” In our main passage, we also read that Daniel was selected to assume great responsibility because he was noted as a man of integrity, and one who had “an excellent spirit . . . in him” (v. 3).
Daniel was appointed a government official, primarily because he feared God; and there are two important insights we can glean from these verses: 1.) There can be no doubt that there are individuals in public office today who walk in obedience to God, and who stand up for what is right. We need to pray for them, because the Lord has positioned them strategically to work on His behalf. 2.) If you happen to be someone who’s in a position of government, or an area of high profile leadership, then you must be certain to walk blamelessly. In reference to Daniel, we read, “But they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him” (v. 4). The only way that you can hope to maintain your position is to be above reproach, and remain faithful to the Lord at all times.
Kneel in a Time of Moral Attack (vv. 5-10)
5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” 6 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! 7 All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.